By Melody Chan
I would be the first to admit that I wouldn’t be a daily Vancouver bike commuter today if I didn’t use an electric bicycle. I’m not ashamed to say that, because it’s true.
I learned how to ride a bicycle when I was 7 years old, but growing up, my mom would always drive me to places or I would take public transit. In University, I got a car (back when gas was still relatively affordable), and with the convenience of a car, I never even considered riding a bike for even general transport, never mind as a way to commute. It never really appealed to me because of how much more time, (not to mention effort) it would take to bike to class or do errands.
And it wasn’t just the idea of biking that left me cold. It was the hills. Yes, the lovely but downright gnarly hills of Vancouver that neither my mind nor my physique seemed ready to conquer.
Still, every new year my resolution was and is to lose weight. Finally, one year, I decided to try to integrate exercise into my daily commute and went out and bought myself a new bike. My commute then was only about 7km, but going to work every morning was all uphill, literally. Of course rides home were a breeze, and at the end of a long day it was about the only kind of ride I was ready for. But it was the mornings that were my dread. It was a sure bet that I would arrive to work all sweaty, sometimes drenched, and not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It didn’t take long for me to get tired of my work day with sweat dripping down my face and steamy fog covering up my glasses. Not to mention, it would would take at least 20 minutes to settle my pounding heart rate. Although my body benefited a lot from biking up the hills, those same climbs also discouraged me from choosing to ride my bike every morning. Increasingly, I ended up taking public transit because it was faster and demanded less effort. Eventually, my bike was retired and I would only use it a few times during the summer. I went to the gym to exercise instead.
I realized that if I wasn’t already an avid cyclist, it would take more than just a few weeks of biking to commit myself to being a full-time bike commuter. My body simply wasn’t trained enough to tackle the many arduous ascents of my only route.
At the gym on a bike, you can control your elevation, but you can’t on a real road. When you come to a hill on a bike, there are only two choices; get off your seat and bike it, or walk your vehicle. Forcing oneself to buckle down and bike it to the top can overwork your muscles and even cause injury. For my own part, it wasn’t that I hated every hill. I just wished that I could adjust the difficulty without slowing down and still get enough resistance to achieve a decent work-out. An ebike can do that.
An ebike can take me to places faster than a regular bike. An ebike lets me control the level of effort I want to put into my exercise. An ebike gives me the same convenience, if not more, than a car.
An ebike is now my transportation choice every morning. I no longer dread the hills, I conquer them. No longer panting out my “good mornings” at work, I’m saying it with a big smile instead. With an ebike, I get to fully enjoy every part of my commute, from the bottom of the hill right to the top!
Of course, this is not to take anything away from traditional cycles or cycling. Perhaps someday I’ll find myself on a nice long (and flat!) stretch of road loving the experience of a 100% “Melody-powered” pedigree road bike. In the meantime, I am living the ebike life and loving it every pedal of the way.
If you’re interested in taking the plunge into ebikes, or even just finding out more about them and maybe giving one a try, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here at the Reckless Bike Stores’ ebike shop at 1357 Hornby Street or by email at Hornby@rektek.com.
If you’re like me, and love the idea of getting moving without necessarily breaking a sweat, then an ebike might just change your outlook on cycling forever. And what better time to take a shot at ebiking than during Bike to Work week?
I hope to see you out on the streets pedaling at your very own pace!